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.Zepto Ransomware Virus Removal

STF-zepto-ransomware-.zepto-virus-crypto-virus-encrypted-file

The recent Zepto ransomware virus has spread like a plague. As a variant of Locky ransomware, it is expected of the improved virus to reach new heights in infection. Zepto uses the same ransom note as Locky and Bart ransomware with changes web addresses used for payment. Encrypted files are renamed in a specific way, and locked with a .zepto extension. For now, there is no decrypter tool, but you can see how you might restore some files and remove Zepto ransomware if you carefully read the whole article.

Threat Summary

Name Zepto
Type Ransomware
Short Description The ransomware uses 128-bit AES ciphers with RSA 2048-bit algorithm for the encryption of files.
Symptoms The ransomware puts the extension .zepto to all encrypted files and demands around 320$ in Bitcoins currency for decryption.
Distribution Method Spam Emails with disguised JavaScript attachments, Suspicious Sites
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Zepto Ransomware – Infection Spread

Zepto ransomware is spreading with lightning speed. The reason is that it utilizes methods used by Locky ransomware over a new and possibly better botnet. The effectiveness comes from the fact that some anti-malware programs still do not have Zepto in their database with definitions for viruses.

There are lots of ways you can get infected with this ransomware. Targeted attacks could very well be in place, with the ransomware creators going after large companies, but they have set up malware campaigns on a massive, global scale. Some researchers say that the most attacks are reported in the US and the European Union. Those researchers also believe that the malware creators possibly reside in Russia and neighboring countries, but those allegations are not proven and are ungrounded. It is true, though that in the past Locky ransomware didn’t infect computers which had the Russian language set as default.

Zepto ransomware is mainly spread through a botnet delivering a vast amount of spam e-mails. The emails have an appended attachment, which is a JavaScript file. The file contains the malicious payload and is just waiting to be executed. Upon opening the file executes, but the encryption process is hidden from the victim, and the ransomware makes itself known after all personal files on the compromised machine get encrypted. The file hidden in any of the spam emails is well concealed. Plus, the electronic letter is written in such a way that can trick most unsuspecting users into opening the attachment.

The payload file is probably spread in a few other ways. Malicious advertising is a popular choice among malware, where the code that infects you often hides in interactive advertisements, like pop-ups and full-page ads. Once you click such an ad, even with the intent to remove it, the malicious code is injected into your PC. The JavaScript file with the Zepto ransomware inside can be spread over social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. File-sharing services are not insured, and the ransomware owners could have spread their file in some form.

Zepto Ransomware – Chronological Background

Back in the first quarter of this year, Locky ransomware infected people’s systems worldwide. The most important files people had, such as documents and databases, got encrypted. The spam email campaign of Locky was huge, and the email was cleverly written so that users could be tricked and infect their computers. You can see a small example of the aftermath in our Locky forum topic. Nobody has made a working decrypter tool for Locky to this very day, which is probably why the cybercriminals are using the same code of the ransomware, to generate money.

A few days ago, another clone of Locky made its appearance before Zepto. That other variant is dubbed Bart ransomware. The Bart virus demanded a higher ransom amount from infected users and used a Trojan to spread itself. The Trojan is effective and bears the name RockLoader. The first botnet used for spreading Locky ransomware is stopped to make way for the newer variants of this crypto-virus.

Zepto Ransomware – Technical Analysis

Zepto ransomware is the new and improved variant of the Locky ransomware virus, which hit a huge number of computers in February, this year. The Zepto ransomware is given that name because of the extension it appends to encrypted files.

The ransomware could probably make an entry in the Windows Registry for longevity. The entry will launch the ransomware with each start of Windows. This is an example of such an entry:

→HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run [name of the exe file]

When Zepto ransomware virus locks your files, it will create two files with the payment instructions described. The files are these:

  • HELP_instructions.html
  • HELP_instructions.bmp

Here is a picture of the ransom note:

STF-zepto-ransomware-virus-crypto-virus-instructions-ransom-note

The ransom note reads:

!!! IMPORTANT INFORMATION !!!

All of your files are encrypted with RSA-2048 and AES-128 ciphers.
More information about the RSA and AES can be found here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_(cryptosystem)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Encryption_Standard
Decrypting of your files is only possible with the private key and decrypt program, All which is on our secret server.
To receive your private key follow one of the links:
1. http://mphtadhci5mrdlju.tor2web(.)org/D7F6EEB0D8FC508E
2. http://mphtadhci5mrdlju.onion(.)to/D7F6EEB0D8FC508E
If all of this addresses are not available, follow synthesis steps:
1. Download and install Tor Browser: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy(.)html
2. After a successful installation, run the browser and wait for initialization.
3. Type in the address bar: mphtadhci5mrdlju(.)onion/D7F6EEB0D8FC508E
4. Follow the instructions on the site.
!!! Your personal identification ID: D7F6EEB0D8FC508E !!!

The ransom message is not intended to threaten you but gives you the links to pay the ransom. The message gives two web addresses which use a Tor proxy. You can gain access to either of them if you copy the links into any browser.

If you go to one of the web addresses, you will see this page:

STF-zepto-ransomware-virus-crypto-virus-instructions-site-locky-decryptor

On the page, you can see that Locky decryptor is offered. The ransom money demanded by Zepto is 0.5 Bitcoins, which is around 320 US dollars, currently. Do not pay the ransom as you can just lose your money by supporting the cyber crooks, without getting any data back.

The Zepto ransomware crypto-virus uses 128-bit AES ciphers with an 2048-bit RSA algorithm for the encryption of files. Both Bart and Locky ransomware viruses used the same encryption mechanism. A high possibility exists that the code for the ransomware has hit the black market and is sold as Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). The file extensions which get encrypted are probably the same as those Bart ransomware searches for:

STF-zepto-ransomware-.zepto-virus-crypto-virus-encrypted-file

→.123, .3dm, .3ds, .3g2, .3gp, .602, .aes, .arc, .asc, .asf, .asm, .asp, .avi, .bak, .bat, .bmp, .brd, .cgm, .cmd, .cpp, .crt, .csr, .csv, .dbf, .dch, .dif, .dip, .djv, .djvu, .doc, .docb, .docm, .docx, .dot, .dotm, .dotx, .fla, .flv, .frm, .gif, .gpg, .hwp, .ibd, .jar, .java, .jpeg, .jpg, .key, .lay, .lay6, .ldf, .m3u, .m4u, .max, .mdb, .mdf, .mid, .mkv, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpeg, .mpg, .ms11, .myf, .myi, .nef, .odb, .odg, .odp, .ods, .odt, .otg, .otp, .ots, .ott, .p12, .paq, .pas, .pdf, .pem, .php, .png, .pot, .potm, .potx, .ppam, .pps, .ppsm, .ppsx, .ppt, .pptm, .pptx, .psd, .rar, .raw, .rtf, .sch, .sldm, .sldx, .slk, .stc, .std, .sti, .stw, .svg, .swf, .sxc, .sxd, .sxi, .sxm, .sxw, .tar, .tbk, .tgz, .tif, .tiff, .txt, .uop, .uot, .vbs, .vdi, .vmdk, .vmx, .vob, .wav, .wb2, .wk1, .wks, .wma, .wmv, .xlc, .xlm, .xls, .xlsb, .xlsm, .xlsx, .xlt, .xltm, .xltx, .xlw, .zip

After encrypting your files the ransomware will put the extension .zepto at the end of each file. It will also rename the files using the identification number generated for every user. It will put hexadecimal symbols from the ransomware ID. Similar to what Locky ransomware did.

Here is how the renaming is done:

  • The first 8 hexadecimal characters of the ID
  • The next 4 hexadecimal characters of the ID
  • The next 4 hexadecimal characters of the ID
  • 4 hexadecimal characters of the ID
  • 12 hexadecimal characters of the ID

The hex letters and numbers are separated by dashes, and each file ends with the .zepto extension. The final name of a file looks like this – A4F8B62G-1587-3HG5-12K7-8CJ24L256P39.zepto.

Zepto ransomware might erase Shadow Volume Copies from the Windows operating system, but you should try to see if you are lucky and the ransomware didn’t succeed in doing that. Keep reading further to learn about ways in which you might restore part of your data.

Remove Zepto Ransomware Virus and Restore .zepto Files

If Zepto ransomware hit your computer system, do not lose hope. You need only a little bit of experience with removing malware to get rid of it. You should remove this nasty ransomware virus as quickly as you can before it can spread deeper into the network and encrypt more user files. The recommended thing to do is to remove this ransomware virus effectively by following the step-by-step manual guide provided below.

Manually delete Zepto from your computer

Note! Substantial notification about the Zepto threat: Manual removal of Zepto requires interference with system files and registries. Thus, it can cause damage to your PC. Even if your computer skills are not at a professional level, don’t worry. You can do the removal yourself just in 5 minutes, using a malware removal tool.

1. Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Zepto files and objects.
2. Find malicious files created by Zepto on your PC.
3. Fix registry entries created by Zepto on your PC.

Automatically remove Zepto by downloading an advanced anti-malware program

1. Remove Zepto with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool
2. Back up your data to secure it against infections and file encryption by Zepto in the future
3. Restore files encrypted by Zepto
Optional: Using Alternative Anti-Malware Tools

Berta Bilbao

Berta is the Editor-in-Chief of SensorsTechForum. She is a dedicated malware researcher, dreaming for a more secure cyber space.

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